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Sten: Number 1 in series Paperback – 1 Jun 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Orbit; New edition edition (1 Jun. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1841490075
  • ISBN-13: 978-1841490076
  • Product Dimensions: 17.7 x 10.8 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 174,233 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

ALLAN COLE is a best-selling author, screenwriter and former prize-winning newsman. The son of a CIA operative, Cole was raised in Europe and the Far East. For details see Allan's website at Here's what critics have said about Cole's work: The Sten Series: Landmark science fiction -Publishers Weekly; When The Gods Slept: Page turner of the year - Locus; The Far Kingdoms Series: Glorious... Swashbuckling - Locus; A Reckoning For Kings: Classic war novel - SF Chronicle; Lucky In Cyprus - A haunting, enlightening experience -; A Cop's Life: Must read by anyone with a badge - Philadelphia Fraternal Order Of Police. And be sure to stop by his weekly blog, My Hollywood MisAdventures ( about his crazy years as a screenwriter with his late partner, Chris Bunch.

Product Description

Book Description

The first book in a fast-paced military SF series, full of action, adventure and intrigue.

From the Author

Sten is an international SF favorite
Set three thousand years in the future, the story of Sten is the life and times of a most unusual hero, told in eight volumes. The series has sold more than ten million copies world-wide making the books consistent best sellers. It is also being published in Germany, Poland and Russia, where it has been on the best seller charts for two years straight. And has been hailed by critics both in the U.S. and abroad as a "landmark science fiction series."

Here's a little big of background on the eight-volume series: Sten is the ultimate survivor. He's lightning quick, mean streets cunning and is blessed with the twin gifts of hungry intelligence and hard-won common sense.

Born on a factory planet, where life had less value than the most common machine, Sten rebelled against The Company that enslaved, then killed his parents. He found a new family of sorts - and the means for revenge - in the ranks of the Eternal Emperor's Imperial Forces.

A series of crucial missions brings him to the attention of the Eternal Emperor, himself. Sten's talents and unshakable loyalty are tested in crisis after crisis, brutal warfare, and assassination.

Sten rises swiftly up the ladder until he becomes a confidante and advisor to the Emperor. Through all this Sten never forgets his lowly origins. Self-depreciating humor, friendship and luck in love shield him from Fame's blinding light. If anything his empathy and sense of responsibility for the common folk of the Empire grow with each new honor, each new badge of rank.

Finally he is asked to make the supreme sacrifice - risking even those he loves - to stand up for the citizens of the Empire. Then, when he succeeds, he turns his back on the greatest honor of all.

Sten's World: Picture the greatest Empire history has known. Its boundaries are the Universe itself, containing more stars, planets and sentient life than could be calculated by the swiftest 21st Century computer. This is a place where humans live side-by-side with countless alien forms. In fact the word alien itself is offensive and all species are merely called "beings."

The planetary systems range from the sophistication of Prime World where the elite gather - to the rough and ready mining and frontier worlds at the Empire's edges.

Ruling over all this is the Eternal Emperor. A human who - as his name implies - has mastered death. He is the ultimate capitalist and when Sten steps onto the stage he has reigned for nearly three thousand years.

The source of the Emperor's power is a cheap, plentiful fuel - called Anti-Matter Two (AM2). It drives the star ships that link the Empire and provides the energy for all industry, agriculture and commerce. He alone controls its supply and price. And he alone knows where AM2 is to be found.

The Emperor is no tyrant. He prefers cunning to force, negotiation to confrontation. But if all else fails he has enormous military resources to back up his will. His past is a rigorously guarded mystery and his future is permanently entwined with the Empire he created. Despite his vast power the Emperor greatly misses the familiar things of his 21st Century youth. On a bad day he would trade it all in for a good bottle of scotch or the sweet sound of an old, hand-crafted violin. The Eternal Emperor, who has the looks of a handsome, 35-year-old man, is also a consummate cook and spends hours in his Prime World kitchens recreating the recipes of ancient Earth. The Eternal Emperor sees a bit of his long ago self in Sten. After all, as he occasionally implies, his roots are as common as Sten's. If their relationship were not by necessity that of ruler and subject they might even have become friends.

Sten admires the Emperor. Perhaps, in a way, he even considers him a father figure. And he has sworn absolute loyalty to the Empire.

In the end, however, he will realize that his loyalty is to the idea not the man.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Mr P on 30 Jan. 2008
Format: Paperback
The other reviewers have said it already. This is an entertaining story with some imaginative ideas about the future. I bought it ages ago and have read it a few times.

On the strength of this book I then bought, eventually, all the other books in the series. Big mistake. I now hate it whenever the scotsman appears and skip entire sections to avoid the author's (or authors' I guess as there are two of them!) mangled interpretation of what a scots accent sounds like. And I am really truly sick of the obsession with having food 'recipes' scattered throughout the books. I want to read an adventure, not a cookery book.

So get this by all means, you'll enjoy it. Just be aware that the later books are not of the same quality, something that regularly happens with pulp fiction series like this, unfortunately.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 30 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
Action packed book with fights, rebellion and love in outer space. Sten starts out as rebellious teenager fighting the company who owns his world and who killed his family. He ends up finding his place in an elite marine corp. He finds his true love and loses her to be reunited for the big rebellion finale. A good read with plenty of action, fights and good scene setting. Reminds me a little of Feintuch. Well worth the read.
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1 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Richard Murray on 20 Mar. 2003
Format: Paperback
In all seriousness, if this is not one of the best books I have ever read, the rest of the series is. The combat scenes are realistic and factual, the history is good, the characters are believable and the plot is supreme! If you enjoyed this book, don't miss the rest of the series- you will miss out!
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 23 Oct. 1997
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Remember his name, Carl, because you will never see it again. He is Sten! The warrior about whoom legends are told accross the Galaxy. Cole and Bunch know their military tactics. Special operations is their motto! It was refreshing to read a series of books which describes SpecOps the way it could happen, or should be done, not the HolyWeird version. The authors also know their history and make various references which I on a rare occasion had to look up. It is refreshing to read a book that doesn't play down to the LCD. And The EE can really cook. I've even tried the recepies personaly :-) One small complaint is their use of Galaxy, Universe, stelar distances and time spans seems inconsisten at times, and I couldn't build even a simulated map of the Empire.
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 35 reviews
21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
A Great Start to a Great Series 2 Aug. 2002
By C. Pellitteri - Published on
Format: Paperback
This is the first of the "Sten" series. It's a great sci-fi read with pleanty of classic sci-fi premisies with a few twists.
One of the nice things about this series is that it ends. Once you get excited about reading these books and become attached to the characters, you can simply pick up the next book and continue on. There is no waiting through years of writers block or movies deals (a la Robert Asprin and JK Rowling).
Yes, it's sad that a series you enjoy ends, but at least you have the sense of completion and closure to the story. Since no series can go on forever it's nice to finish strong.
This, as the first installment, is a great read on it's own merits. It's a great story with great characters.
If you're a fan of books like Starship Troopers (book NOT movie) and Ender's Game - I think you'll like this book and it's sequels.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
a smart, fast paced sci-fi adventure series. 23 Sept. 1999
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Sten series offers sci-fi diehards the opportunity to explore a universe where the greater good isn't all that's cracked up to be. Follow our hero Sten as he slices, kicks and punches his way through some of the toughest and dangerous assignments for the Eternal Emperor. An unlikely man thrust into unlikely dangers, only to survive and come back for more. With his heavy-worlder sidekick Alex at his side, trouble is never too far away! Follow plot twists more crooked than a Campbell! If high adventure in space is your game then Sten is your man.
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Very Good SF Adventure. 6 Aug. 2010
By J. Perkins - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I picked this up at a used book store recently because I have enjoyed other series by these authors (Anteros series, Last Legion series, Star Risk, and Seer King trilogy). None of their books, including this one, have ever bored me. They keep the action fast-paced, and their plots and characters are always engaging.

This is an exciting SF tale of revenge set in the far future. A very brief summary: Sten lives on Vulcan, a constructed factory world that basically enslaves its workers, never allowing them to get ahead on their contracts and thus never allowing them to leave. Sten's family is killed in an apparent accident, but it turns out that the ruler of Vulcan callously sacrificed them to cover-up his plot against the Eternal Emperor. Sten rebels and lives among outcasts who haunt the long-unoccupied sections of Vulcan. Sten then aids one of the Emperor's undercover operatives, who offers him the chance to get off-world and escape the misery of Vulcan. Sten then joins the Emperor's special forces and later returns to Vulcan to exact his revenge on the ruler of Vulcan.

This is a promising beginning to a multi-volume series. You get a glimpse of an interesting world and entertaining characters, including Sten's team members. One of the most interesting characters is the Emperor, who is hundreds of years old. He is eccentric and is constantly trying to recreate food and liquors from Earth long ago. I would recommend this book if you are looking for a readable and exciting action tale in a scifi setting.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Hidden Layers 12 Nov. 2012
By Serious Shopper - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
There are hidden layers to this book, just as the character Sten has hidden dimensions to him that you would never guess by just looking at him. It was the surprising complexity of the novel that prevented me from writing a review earlier, because of the sheer amount of work that a thorough analysis would require. However, I think I've waited long enough to record my recommendation of this book, even if I don't have a dissertation-level of review prepared.

First of all, I have to compliment the authors for their formidable story-telling skills. They know how to keep up a reader's interest, with cliff-hangers and plot twists that reflect their skills as TV show writers, where maintaining viewer interest is crucial to the success of the product. The book is a page-turner, and the reader will enjoy it just for that.

But, underneath, there is something you might not expect: parallels to great literature that provide glimpses into the human condition, with insights you would not think would come from a shoot-'em-up, military, outer space story.

Some reviewers complained about cliche situations in the book. What those reviewers overlooked is the artistry of the authors in turning stock situations into subtle, meaningful commentary. It's what the authors did with mundane situations that made the book, not the fact that some of the situations were recognizable. That was part of the beauty in the construction (whether the authors consciously intended this or not): there is a world underneath the world of appearances. What better way to illustrate that than to take recognizable characters and plots and mold them into a story about the reality behind the facade?

For instance, take the character Sten himself. "[T]hat midget don't look so tough to me" is one of the first descriptions we read of Amos Sten. Like Odysseus in The Odyssey, he is short but stocky. And, also like Odysseus, he has to battle a host of obstacles on a journey that would take him back to "free" his people (with a cynical but truthful twist added to the plot). Remember that literature such as The Odyssey and The Illiad depended on many "epithets," or cliches, to tell the story. Putting aside their usefulness as memory jogs in an oral story tradition, the epithets serve also as the first layer in a multi-dimensional story. In the hands of skillful authors, they serve as building blocks that build an engaging, thoughtful commentary about power, politics, and people. Cole and Bunch do this, exploring issues of loyalty, selfishness, unfettered capitalism, and individual effort versus collective machinery.

In contrast to the rough edges but almost noble interior of the "hero" Sten, there is the polished exterior but corrupt interior of the Eternal Emperor. They, in turn, are superimposed upon a landscape that is an extrapolation of what would happen in a future of unfettered capitalism, where companies can pretty much do as they wish, as long as the Emperor is given his tribute.

The layers of psychology, economics, and military strategy continued to as deep a depth as I could go. I will leave it to the reader, and perhaps to a future additional comment when I can (life is complicated for me right now), to map those levels. They are worth exploring. I give the book five stars.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
The Sten series is pure Genius 3 Oct. 2000
By Napster - Published on
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Dynamic Duo of Allan Cole and Chris Bunch has pulles together one of the greatest scifi series i've ever seen. The Sten series. Sten a man living a life of hell on the laboring planet of Vulcan found a way to get off that godforsaken rock and with a lil luck made it into the imperial army. With Stens luck he could make it through anything but being promoted to the Mantis section of the imperial army will he be able to pull of the impossable mission of recapturing Vulcan for the Eternal Emperor? Or will his luck finnal run out?(Come Check out my Site for more info on scifi and fantasy books [...]
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